preamble & photos by Chris Tiessen

Fully-stocked pantries are a blissful thing. As are overflowing larders, plenished shelves, loaded bookcases, and crowded lazy susans – all bursting with everything from mason jars and ceramic vessels filled with lentils, beans, and pickled things to canned goods and tinned fish; from paperbacks and classic vinyl to kitchen tools and other staples. 

Provisions that feed the soul. And tickle the heart. And help transform regular ol’ living spaces into warm and cozy loving spaces. 

On a particularly cold day this past January, the TOQUE team trudged through deep snow and danced along freshly-ploughed sidewalks in Downtown Kitchener while we made our way to five wonderfully-independent businesses that offer a myriad of unique items – from fermented white peppercorns to unpasteurized french cheeses, tinned organic mussels to Jamaican-style curry powder, Golden Guernsey milk to loose incense, classic pulp fiction to vintage vinyl, glass-blown smokeware to tender cactus nopalitos.

It was an eye-opening experience – one that reminded us of all the vibrant and vital emporiums that comprise this essential pocket of our region. 

So get out there. Explore. Adventure.After all, pantries and shelves don’t fill themselves

Eby Street Bodega
16 Eby St N, Kitchener

A small neighbourhood food shop for the refined palette

Full Circle Foods
16 King St E, Kitchener

Your one-stop grocer for plant-based, local, and waste-free shopping

Talula Fields General Store
20 Queen St S

Home to a curated selection of whimsical household delights

KW Bookstore
308 King St W, Kitchener

Lovingly used books, vintage mags, music, movies, art & ephemera

Mi Tienda Latina
103 Ontario St S, Kitchener

The DTK’s Latin American restaurant & grocery store